Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityEpisode49-210It’s finally here! New episodes of Doctor Who are rolling out at long last. Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, and Tansy as we try to remember how to talk about new episodes of our favorite show. Who am I kidding, we not only talk about it, we talk about it a LOT. But hey, what did you expect? New series! New Doctor! We just couldn’t help ourselves! And surprise! We don’t agree! Who loves Clara’s reaction to the Doctor’s regeneration? Who doesn’t? Listen and see!

And let us know what you think about the new Doctor and his introductory story! We’re curious to see if our listeners are as divided as we are!


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Otters that look like Benedict Cumberbatch by Red Scharlach
Doctor Who Cast & Crew – “500 Miles”

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Comments on: "Verity! Episode 49 – Into the Deep Breath" (76)

  1. First, well done Erika! Even with the rush editing job, the sound quality is excellent 🙂 But if Kat left in the TARDIS, how could she ever be late? We were gypped, give us more Kat!

    I admit I’m on Deb’s side on the ageist ‘boyfriend’ stuff. It feels like Moffat is chastising New Who fans who haven’t seen much before Tennant and Smith, and just rubs me the wrong way. The ‘boyfriend’ references abound in ‘Deep Breath’, but perhaps Missy is simply deranged. Tansy’s suggestion is intriguing though, and could be fascinating if true.

    One thing that struck me about this episode was how the visual storytelling felt so different. The flashback to Clara’s classroom is the most dramatic example, but the short closeup of Capaldi after the half-faced man is impaled is another. Doctor Who usually depends on the dialogue (and explanatory monologues) to move the plot forward, but ‘Deep Breath’ has a lot more non-verbal elements that are critical to the plot. This gives the episode a much more sophisticated feel, and I think I like it!

  2. Another rejoinder to the “Clara knows all about regeneration and has met all the Doctors” complaint: She says herself in “Name,” that “He always looks different…But I always know it’s him…But he never hears me…Almost never.”

    The point is, she may know what they look like, and may assume that they’re all generally on the side of good/right, but aside from Hartnell, Tennant, Smith, and Hurt, we’re given no evidence that she’s never actually interacted personally with any of the others. Even with Hartnell, she only suggested the faulty Tardis before he departed Gallifrey. She’s almost certainly never seen or experienced a regeneration at first hand.

    Clara may know what he looks like in every regeneration, but there’s no way that a passing glance or even working behind the scenes to get him out of trouble lets her *know* anything at all about the process of regeneration, the aging process for a Time Lord, or how it works in any fundamental way.

    • That’s a great quote (and memory). However, I’d disagree that it wouldn’t give her insight into regeneration. It, of course, depends on how much she remembers from her time in the Doctor’s time line. If she only remembers it vaguely than you would be right. If she remembers it more clearly, I would say that she should know that the 11th Doctor is the only one whose face changed dramatically during his “lifetime”.

      I am wondering if her confusion and fear comes from the fact that she DID know so many incarnations of the Doctor and that this Doctor is so different from all of them. Maybe it is supposed to emphasis that this Doctor is completely separate from all those that came before him.

      • Indeed, Shelley, I think her confusion and consternation contains elements of all the points you raise, and more!

        It’s cool to have friends – and many people do – like Vastra, Jenny, and Strax, whom you can count on to be supportive no matter what. I think that’s what’s behind Vastra’s “here we go again” – not that she’s seen a regeneration or known other Doctors – but that she remembers who and how he was in “Good Man Goes to War,” how different he was after the Ponds died and “they cared for” him during those “dark times” (“Snowmen”), and how he got his groove back after meeting Clara. In that context, “here we go again” is like, another mood/variation/character shift to get used to, but one they immediately accept.

        On the other hand, it’s also necessary to have friends like Clara; people who know you intimately, and who are able to grow with you over time. Change is hard and it’s frustrating, even just figuratively, when someone you’re close to has a dramatic/traumatic life changing experience. Close friends are there to help you work through it, which often requires adjustment on both sides. I think that’s what Clara’s major difficulty is – she and the Doctor both have to work on changing how they relate to each other in very fundamental ways.

        I think it’s amazing that “Deep Breath” went so far in showing, in putting on screen, the messy and difficult nature of relationships, from friendship to best friendship to the dynamics of Vastra and Jenny’s day-to-day life as a couple. Pretty astounding and profound, from my vantage point, at least!

  3. I disagree with the ‘gendered’ perspective of Jenny posing for Vastra. Kat is right that this is a dominance/submission thing, and while that is stereotypically a dominant male and submissive female, remember we also have the ‘dominatrix’ counter-culture stereotype that reverses the roles. Vastra is clearly very dominant, although I agree she came across as rather insensitive to Jenny’s feelings in this scene as well as the previous scene with tea.

    However, another scene had a far more gendered moment. When Vastra referred to men as ‘monkeys’ it was clearly meant to tie into a ‘battle of the sexes’ trope, especially with the condescension she showed when adopting a Scottish accent. It even included some ‘mansplaining’ as The Doctor assured her she couldn’t cope with his massive brain, although that might actually be ‘Lordsplaining’ 😉 But the whole scene is played for laughs, down to the Flintstones sound effect as The Doctor conks out.

    So much to say! Two hours wasn’t enough, not nearly. We need Liz and Lynne’s viewpoints too!

    • Got to agree with you about the cheap misandry there. Makes me even more sad that a man wrote that line. Would a female writer/editor allow that? All sexism is objectionable but it’s very easy to throw asides about the varying intelligence of men about. As a programme that espouses equality and freedom Doctor Who should know better.

      That said, generally I enjoyed the episode, Capaldi was great. More constructive comment after I have heard the podcast whilst on my commute. 🙂

    • Hasn’t Vastra been insensitive to the feeling of humans all along though? In her first episode, A Good Man Goes to War, she insults humans and Jenny gives her the cold shoulder. She says something to the effect, “Oh, I’ve said something insensitive again, haven’t I? Why do you put up with me?” and then flicks out her long tongue (makes the “did I hit something” joke seem tame in comparison). I agree with Kat and you that they are not gendered roles but roles that have been usurped by many male/female relationships. While Jenny and Vastra are two females, Vastra is not a human female so I don’t think she is taking on a human power role in the relationship. I think she’s just taking a Silurian one.

      • I guess you’re right Shelley, Vastra has always been aloof and brusque. Yet another way she is like Sherlock 🙂 But in this episode she also shows interest in Clara, to Jenny’s dismay. When Vastra tells Clara to ‘pop her clothes on the chair’, an out of focus Jenny is clearly shocked in the background. Moffat continues his fascination with socially inappropriate nudity, with both Vastra and Strax’ behavior.

      • I did find the Vastra attraction to Clara out of place as she’d never shown it before. I guess I never thought of Vasta actually being attracted to “apes” but falling in love with Jenny.

    • Moffat loves his dominatrices (oh and the way he talks about his wife!), and I disagree vehemently that it reverses traditional gender roles, in fiction or common practice. The women are still defined by their men and their sexuality, whose feelings and desires are ~the~ most important thing. They’re just the femme fatale bad girls, very old fashioned. That’s the cheat Moffat gives us over and over again, with the pretense of “feminism” about it.

      As for there being no such thing as “gendered” roles in a lesbian relationship, I have got to roll my eyes a wee bit, as a lesbian. I mean, helloooo, the history of butch-fem/me going back to Victorian times and beyond, not to speak of other cultures? Nowadays, it is understood by many queers and academics that masculinity, and traditional male roles, are separate from (if related to) gender, but culture at large does not understand that, and I doubt Moffat really grasps more than a straw of it. Vastra is his way to say: look, give a woman a chance to act “like a man” and she’ll behave just as badly as a man, cos men are just like that right? (So now we’re even, girls.) This is the stereotype lesbians endure over and over again. And of course these type of women act towards men like men act towards women, only somehow worse. I find it pretty funny that Dan Billing appears to take the “misandry” seriously as a blow to men (when written, always written by a man on this show); I have always found it a sexist censorious accusation levelled at women (especially lesbians and feminists), which I find here.

      That said, I didn’t find this episode too bad in terms of gender politics. I’ve found the last few seasons pretty rough going, but this was almost plain sailing for me. Yay. Excellent episode in other ways, I really enjoyed the adventure and character moments. So excited for this season.

  4. The discussion this week spent a lot of time focusing on Clara’s (non) response to regeneration. There was a major assumption underlying the discussion – that Clara remembered the events of The Name of the Doctor and The Day of the Doctor.

    Because the Doctor no longer died on Trenzalore in The Time of the Doctor, the rift from his “life essence/corpse” never opened, the Great Intelligence and Clara never stepped through in The Name of the Doctor, and neither were fragmented in the Doctor’s timeline. So, from Clara’s perspective, one could argue that those events never happened — or were rewritten by future events. In either case, she wouldn’t have that knowledge of regeneration.

    Similarly with the events of The Day of the Doctor… does Sarah Jane Smith remember the events of the Five Doctors? I thought other media (novels, audios) has always implied that those events were fuzzy or that she didn’t remember them – if the Doctor doesn’t remember the events, until the oldest of the Doctors experienced the events through, why would the companion, including Clara in the 50th, remember the events?

    So maybe Clara never knew about regeneration after all. If you go back and rewatch Coleman’s performance in Deep Breath, with that in mind (that she doesn’t remember the events of Name and Day), then it feels a lot more true and internally consistent – like Jenna Coleman is playing the role without the knowledge of Name and Day – and that seems consistent with how Steven Moffat wrote the character.

    Food for thought….

    • Or to complicate things further: the show has never addressed the end of “The name of the Doctor”. So we don’t know how the multiple Clara thing really worked – did she manifest fully formed in those times, or did she live entire lives? We saw two alt-Claras who did not seem to know the Doctor at all (Asylum, Snowmen), but the episode suggested others actively sought him out. And most importantly: just because the splinter Claras happened, we don’t know that Clara Prime shares these memories at all. It could all be a weird daze for her, or have made no impact at all – she falls into the time stream, more or less shatters, but the other Claras might have those experiences and memories, not her.

      You logic about “Time of the Doctor” makes sense but I doubt the show is proceeding as if the “Name of the Doctor” was undone. There’s too much continuity – again, Asylum, Snowmen, every S7 Clara adventure – for them to just say it didn’t happen.

      • Ann-Marie said:

        Seconded. I also wonder/doubt if Clara Prime has real memories of the splintered Claras throughout the time stream.

      • Sarah B said:

        I don’t think Clara Prime remembers all the meetings in the time stream, beyond knowing they existed. I got the impression that they were a bit like future splinters of herself, rather than in her past.

      • James said:

        When Clara is in the Doctor’s time stream, in “Name Of The Doctor”, she seems to have some awareness of what’s happening: “Sometimes it’s like I’ve lived a thousand lives in a thousand places. I’m born, I live, I die.” But after the Great Intelligence threat has been dealt with, before the Doctor rescues her, she seems to have lost most of her awareness of what happened: “I don’t know where I am. I don’t know where I’m going, or where I’ve been. I was born to save the Doctor, but the Doctor is safe now. I’m the Impossible Girl, and my story is done.” So it sounds like she ended up not having much recall of what happened or what her splinters did.

  5. This has been a very good review and discussion of the themes of Deep Breath! Great stuff!
    Especially your comments about Clara’s insecurity with the regenerated Doctor.
    I think she doesn’t remember much of the Doctors apart from 10 and the War Doctor, since she only saw them running about in that wasteland. Her split off fragments saved them, not original Clara.

    Now, concerning Missy: how about if she is Death, the Doctor’s constant companion?

  6. I too subscribe to Erika’s “Clara’s Reaction Newsletter.” I feel that Clara’s reaction was very human and complex, with all of its potentially ugly implications. Indeed it was Moffet scolding the audience, but my interpretation is that this scolding was meant for a specific swath of “fair-weather fans” who have voiced their disdain for an older doctor. That being said, it was a heavy-handed.

    • James C said:

      Seconded, in every respect.

      More important: This was an outstanding instalment of my favourite podcast. It was certainly not too long! An extended edition for an extended episode.

    • To me it felt as if Moffat used the extra time of the episode to get beside those who genuinely struggle, possibly for the first time, with such a huge change for the main character. For those who’ve seen every Doctor Who episode three times this may seem laboured or heavy handed.
      But the eleventh Doctor’s immature reaction to his next regeneration showing his age might be a way of showing sympathy with those who struggle. Whatever conflicted emotions the young fans and Clara are experiencing, he feels it too.

      I think that, apart from noticing the obvious cynicism that longtime fans might express on message boards, the producers of Doctor Who are just as aware of how the youngest fans perceive this show. It matters. They are, after all, the core audience.

      But we’ve all been given something in this episode. And that’s brilliant!
      I think Deep Breath will stand the test of time.

  7. Always enjoy listening to you all. I can be sure of hearing intelligent conversation about one of my favorite topics 🙂

    I am commenting as I listen to the podcast, so I may skip around a little.

    Episode length: I thought it was too long. It would have been great as a 60 minute episode. Like most people I felt the episode began to hit its stride once we got to the restaurant scene. From there on, it was great.

    The phone call from 11: I didn’t like it. To me, it let the air out of an otherwise pretty good introduction of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor.

    Clara’s reaction: Weird. It’s understandable that she would have some initial shock at the Doctor’s new appearance. She should realize that it’s the same software, different case. While she may have some shock at actually experiencing a regeneration, she is one of the only (maybe the only) companions to have seen every face of the Doctor. She knows he changes. Why did she have such a problem accepting the fact that the Doctor she traveled with changed? Why did the writers use Clara to beat us up (the audience) with the fact that the Doctor is not young and good looking anymore? Who cares? As long he acts like the Doctor, we (and the companion) will come to accept him for who he is rather than what he looks like. We don’t need to be clubbed over the head with the fact that he’s still the Doctor.

    Paternoster Gang: Oy. They have worn thin with me. It’s time to give them a break. Strax is a one trick pony. Reminding us that Vastra and Jenny were married once would have been fine. Twice, OK, we need to do that for new viewers. But more times than I could count? Come on already! I get it.

    The apparent big arc for this season: Missy. Hm. No idea what to make of her, but I’m intrigued. I will refrain from all speculation because it will be more fun for me to just let Moffat and Company reveal it to me throughout the season.

    Overall reaction of the episode: Meh. How would I rank the introductory episodes since the show came back in 2005? Like this: (1) Eleventh hour; (2) Rose; (3) Christmas Invasion; and (4) Deep Breath.

    What I liked: Peter Capaldi. He’s going to be a good Doctor. I’m looking forward to his run. I also liked the new dynamic between Clara and the Doctor. Her feistiness and his bluntness are going to make for some fun moments. Maybe more like 4 and Romana 1. I enjoyed the return of the clockwork droids.

    • Simeon said:

      Re: The Paternoster Gang, I couldn’t agree more. Throughout the podcast Deb complained bitterly about being hit over the head about Capaldi’s age: I felt exactly the same about Vastra and Jenny’s marriage. Enough already, we get it.
      At least Strax still gets some funny lines.

  8. The problem with you all talking for two hours straight is that there were about 1000 places where I wanted to jump in and I had to sit still and wait till the very end. 😉

    To sum up, more or less:

    Regarding Clara’s reaction to the regeneration, I completely agree with Erika but I also agree with Deb that the age thing was pounded in a bit hard. What struck me, though, is that this is really the first time we’ve seen Clara react to ANYTHING. In all her prior appearances she has taken everything in stride; she’s never been really frightened, she’s never been upset, she’s never been angry. I think finally seeing Clara finally REACT to something is as big a deal as the reaction itself.

    I think you’re right that this is a switch back to companion point of view after seeing much of the last few seasons through the Doctor’s eyes; I think that explains why I didn’t connect with Matt Smith’s era as well as I have with others. The first episode of DW I ever saw was ‘Rose,’ and I identified with that character more strongly than I ever have with any character in my life. In this episode I started to see parallels between Clara and Rose, I started to identify with Clara, and I started to feel engaged again, as I really wasn’t for much of series 5-7. Companion as audience surrogate is a really important idea, and one that I think Moffat forgot about for a while.

    Regarding Sherlock, you left out the #1 reference, the one that popped for my husband and me right away: the agony column. Not found in BBC Sherlock, it is a classic feature of Doyle’s (and Jeremy Brett’s) Sherlock Holmes stories, as important as the Irregulars, and quite difficult to translate into the modern era.

    Regarding the kiss, I think it’s important to mention that the iconic, game-changing, first-on-television interracial kiss – classic Star Trek – was also a cheat. The characters were forced by mind-control to kiss. Maybe it sucks that it has to be a cheat, but given how restrictive television can be, it’s better to start with that than not do it at all.

    I really want to sit down with the episode and take notes of every single reference, nod, or hat tip. Moffat is nothing if not meta, and there’s a ton of really good stuff in this one. (If you’re into that sort of thing – and I totally am.)

    Thanks for this wonderful episode, and I look forward to the rest of the season!

    • Stephanie R said:

      You hit the nail on the head – this is the first time Clara has been allowed to be a fully fleshed out character. I really loved her in this episode – and she is the best at almost crying, or being angry through tears. Good connection with the Vastra/Jenny kiss to the Kirk/Uhura kiss. Very similar.

      • Five foot one and crying, we never had a chance. I agree, I liked seeing the unruffled Clara. While we have seen Clara upset, (Name of the Doctor, Time of the Doctor) she has been serene. I liked seeing her get mad and say the wrong thing at the wrong time. No one wants a “perfect” companion as they are not interesting. Now that the impossible girl storyline is over, we can really focus on seeing Clara as a multi-faceted character.

  9. On Clara’s reaction to the regeneration the first time she mentions his appearance is with Jenny and her exact words were “Where did he get that face? Why has it got lines on it, it’s brand new? How can his hair be grey he only just got it?”

    Clara’s never seen a regeneration she just knows the Doctor changes faces coupled with him not remembering her name, she seems to clearly be upset that something went wrong because she knows basically nothing about the mechanics of regeneration.

    It’s definitely played a little vague so Vastra can address a section of the audience but Clara doesn’t inhabit the shallow perspective she’s berating.
    On a side note to who that’s supposed to address the audience for the show doubled during Matt Smith’s run in the US alone that’s ignoring the international success that warranted a World Tour for Capaldi. There’s clearly a ton of new viewers who have only had Matt Smith never mind just a ‘young’ Doctor.

    • Andrew, I think you and I are on exactly the same page here. Well said.

    • lbphilly said:

      It just occurred to me, reading this comment, that Clara and the Doctor had essentially the same question, although they may have arrived at the question by different routes. Clara wanted to know where the lines came from; the Doctor wanted to know who frowned those frowns.

  10. My theory about Missy: She’s the Tardis!

    • Ooh you’re right, she’s the only other person who is allowed to call the Doctor her boyfriend.

      • James said:

        There is another character who might refer to the Doctor as her boyfriend. And also fit the requirements of having died (she appears to be in some form of after-life), have an interest in the half-face man (so he was not there randomly) and call herself Missy (short for Mistress). She could also be adopting a Scottish accent as it would give away too much if she was using her actual French accent. What if Missy marks the return of Madame de Pompadour?

  11. lbphilly said:

    Great job, Verities! — the eagerly awaited podcast really made my day. Since you asked for opinions….

    Re: Clara and regeneration. I’m not sure how much regeneration Clara has seen but I do know that only one other NewWho companion had seen any regeneration before, and that was Rose, who saw Nine regenerate into Ten. As I recall, after a few minutes of musing on his body parts in The Parting of the Ways, Ten grinned his patented grin and jumped right back into the conversation Nine had been having about vacation destinations, even remembering “Barcelona.” Also, as I recall, once Ten was conscious again in The Christmas Invasion he was pretty much good to go.

    Ten regenerated alone and Eleven, after flailing around in search of food etc, met small child Amy who had no frame of reference about any Doctor.

    So Clara, like many NewWhovians, may have had absolutely no frame of reference for a regenerated Doctor who had a lengthy period of disorientation and a total personality transplant, much less a regeneration into an older persona. [More learned Whovians than I are hotly debating whether she’d remember any regenerations after the wobbling of the wibbly.]

    Finally, after she begged the crack in the wall to save him, who were his last words about as Eleven? Amy. After he regenerates, he doesn’t know how to fly the TARDIS, which has got to be mighty scary for a companion. And when he comes back in this episode. Clara is only “not me, the asking questions one,” and his kindest words were for the dinosaur. And she couldn’t calm him down — but Vastra could. If she had no frame of reference for regenerations, she might well believe this regeneration had gone wrong.

    I liked the phone call from Eleven. It did a fine job of underscoring the fact that Eleven and Twelve are the same Doctor for me. I think it helped a lot with closing the loop.

    Looking forward to listening to it again, and very soon.

    • lbphilly said:

      P.S. Meant to add, after being forgotten and not able to calm him down, etc., it’s possible her feelings were hurt and/or her vanity was wounded.

    • I think Clara has to have seen NO regenerations since her job was always to save the Doctor… and we saw no footage of her that coincided with any of his actual deaths.

      • lbphilly said:

        I’ll buy that — Clara having seen no regenerations. I wasalso wandering about in my comments and thinking about that significant chunk of the audience who’d also seen no regenerations, or only Ten’s and Eleven’s, which were mild in comparison with the wild disorientation of Twelve.

  12. I really enjoyed this episode, except I very much missed not hearing from Lynne and Liz.

    I’m sorry, but I think Deb was the one bringing their own head canon to the matter of the age of the Doctor. I’d say more, but I think Tansy and Erika said everything that I might have already. Except this: I am a balding, grey haired man, not too much younger than Peter Capaldi, and I did not get that from Jenna’s performance in any way. The script and the performance, as well as my personal emotional reaction flies in the face of the “Clara doesn’t want an old Doctor” theory. Except for Matt Smith’s Doctor mentioning it, I had no trouble on that score in any way. If anything, Clara’s great scene with Vastra and removing the veil supports the facts as Erika and Tansy said they saw them.

    Enough of that. We will learn more in the coming episodes, I presume. In the mean time, Peter Capaldi is bloody brilliant in this role. I am so terribly excited to see him grow in the part. I thought Jenna Coleman was stronger in this episode that I have seen her, and she has been pretty darned good in the past (especially in Asylum of the Daleks and The Day of the Doctor).

    • I too am a middle aged chap (44 years old, but who’s counting?) whose hair is becoming somewhat sparse, and Scottish to boot! And I didn’t feel that the age comments were gratuitous. In fact, I would have felt something was amiss if the issue wasn’t addressed! I can see what Deb was saying, but Clara is the audience identification figure for a lot of viewers (not for me, I always identify with the Doctor…) and not all viewers are fans. Fandom may have come to terms with the idea of an older Doctor, but it is still going to come as a shock to many younger or casual viewers and it is right to try to ease them through the transition.

      My first regeneration was Pertwee to Tom Baker when I was 4 years old, and I can still remember how utterly bizarre that was. And just like Clara, I knew all about regeneration (thanks to my older brother), but the theory and the reality are very different things! I think Clara has seen the Doctor in his different regenerations, but this is the first time she’s actually seen him regenerate, and had to deal with the immediate fallout.

  13. microtoast said:

    I was with Deb. I wish Clara had just said something like, ‘this isn’t the way I thought it would be’ or ‘did something go wrong?’ or suchlike. About the audience not needing to be spoon-fed, I think they way they DID it felt like spoonfeeding to me. And there’s also a difference between not showing everything explicitly and being totally unclear on what’s going on…one trusts an intelligent audience to follow along, and the other relies on the audience to make up for lazy storytelling. (not that I’m picking this particular episode apart – it’s just a distinction that often gets lost)

    About Clara needing to not know about regeneration so she can be the audience-viewpoint character for new viewers, well, we have the Paternoster Gang handy. Couldn’t SHE help THEM along with the adjustment? Why should Vastra be so knowledgeable about regeneration? I also thought Vastra was totally judgmental herself, censuring Clara for a (reasonably) hysterical reaction without even trying to console her or explain first.

    The restaurant scene was the start of the good stuff for me, too. Capaldi is perfect.

    Missy is the sort of character I instantly want to punch in the face. Which is fine, as she is a villain, but I prefer the subtler conniving sorts and she seems way over the top for me (not to mention an amalgamation of female villains I feel like we’ve seen before, time and time again). Not particularly looking forward to her arc, however it plays out.

    Clara got some character! yay! And I don’t think it was a sudden thing. I think it fits with her character throughout.

    Finally, I’ve said this elsewhere – I REALLLY want the lady in the shop to be Donna. Though, realizing that the chances of this are practically zero, I would settle for simply someone good, rather than the villain. I’m a bit tired of everyone’s lives being secretly manipulated by the bad guys throughout the timelines, and I think this would actually have more potential payoff. OR…just thought of this…Sally Sparrow!

  14. Micro: I agree with you. Any excuse to get Donna back!

    About Missy, good chance she is the Master, sure. Because she’s obsessed with the Doctor. Slim chance she’s the Rani. Because… she’s obsessed with the Doctor.

    About the opening credits? I loved the graphics… though in some ways, I liked elements of the original

    better. Let’s fully embrace the Seal of Rassilon as a logo, and the fob watch was cool. I actually think the original youtube draft was better than the official BBC one, other than the font the BBC used and the “attack eyes”: another great improvement.

    And the music? I have to confess I love the Seventh Doctor theme. I don’t find this new one similar at all. My first thought on it it was “too kazooey”. I don’t think it will ever resolve as a favourite version of the theme. Perhaps, in my head canon, I should play Vashta Nerada [Doctor Who Theme] by Traffic Experiment every time the show begins in the new series.

    I’ve only seen “Deep Breath once”. I will see it at least one more time by the time the weekend is over. But I will listen to it, audio only, when driving tomorrow. I got that idea from this “Verity” episode… I think it was mentioned that Steven of RFS had listen to it a few times already.

    Concerning what Capre said about Clara knowing the previous regens: ” So, from Clara’s perspective, one could argue that those events never happened”. I agree. It could also be true that the remaining Clara is otherwise devoid of all but the vaguest knowledge of her intervention in the timelines.

    Also, considering all those past timelines: didn’t Clara intervene successfully to prevent regenerations (the Doctor’s “death”)? Which would also mean that she saw few if any, perhaps…

    • oops. sorry my Youtube link, intended as just a link, was turned into a giant video box. I forgot it would do that. I wanted just one line of text 😦

    • I really liked the opening sequence graphics. I’m sure I saw them before they were announced but I don’t remember. I think that they match Matt Smith’s Doctor more (because of the color scheme). I am still adjusting to the music. One of the hardest things for me to let go of from Matt’s Doctor is the music. I loved the theme and “I am the Doctor”. Capaldi’s music was much more understated than Matt’s which matches his Doctor but it doesn’t get my heart pumping just to hear the first few notes. Does anyone know the name of the new music?

  15. terminuspodcast said:

    Just starting to listen, but wanted to mention really quick that I was excited to hear about redscharlach’s Red Bubble store! I used her Livejournal icons for years as well! Thanks, Tansy! 🙂

    • Excellent! I actually started a Pinterest board for my old LJ icon collection because I missed them so much…

  16. Okay, the end of the battle/holding breath bit – was Strax about to shoot himself with his own gun? And if so, WTH?! No Sontaran, not even Strax would kill himself rather than battle to the death. Someone tell me please that I misinterpreted that bit and there was something else going on there…

    On Clara, I was SO looking forward to having a companion who knew about regeneration and was totally cool with it. I agree that it was a wasted opportunity of epic proportions. And I think that Moffat is selling us all short on the whole “the old guy is now the Doctor, deal with it” approach. But I do admit to tearing up at the phone call (which I had NO idea was coming).

    Bottom line – not as joyous as Eleventh Hour, more “okay, we finally got all that out of the way, now off to adventure!” for me, but I was always on board for the ride.

  17. sostorm said:

    Tansy, your so not alone in your Cabin Pressure obsession. It’s truly a favorite pet of the Sherlock fandom.

  18. Great show and review! I really liked Deep Breath, although I had several issues with it.

    1. I wish it had been a better jumping on point. My parents have seen seasons 1 and 2 plus Day of the Doctor, so they have some familiarity with the show. But they watched Deep Breath and were very confused. Especially by the Paternoster Gang. I wish Deep Breath had been a little more like Eleventh Hour, where you could easily watch the show knowing nothing about DW. I felt that Christmas Invasion was less bogged down by continuity than this episode.

    2. As for the dominance/submissive moments between Madame Vastra and Jenny, I actually thought it was a positive change in this episode. Jenny has always felt very passive or submissive toward Madame Vastra – whether they were putting on a face for the public or just around the Doctor and Clara. This is the first episode where I felt Jenny called Madame Vastra out. Whether she was bothered by it or she was teasing Vastra, I thought Jenny asserted herself for the first time here.

    3. I don’t see why people are up in arms about Madame Vastra and Jenny’s kiss. Captain Jack kissed the Doctor in Parting of the Ways. I’ve never heard anyone making a big deal of that. Of course, I didn’t watch the show at the time, so maybe it was more controversial then. But I don’t get why people are saying this is some big first for Doctor Who.

    4. I loved the explanation of Clara thinking that the Doctor is supposed to start young with each regeneration and that that was the cause of her worry. I think there are clues to that in the dialogue. Although I also think there’s an element of mind cannon. I assume she was mostly a vessel for Moffat to convince viewers to accept a new Doctor. I find it rather irritating. Ironically, though, I spent much of the weekend defending Moffat on another fan site when I accused a guy of being sexist for complaining about the whiny fangirls.

    5. I really hope Missy is the Master. That was the first thing that popped into my head.

    6. Did it bother anyone that this episode screamed Moffat from every pore? I like Moffat a lot more than many people, but there were so many reused ideas and themes that I’m starting to feel like Moffat can’t come up with anything original for Doctor Who anymore. There was the reuse of the clockwork robots, all the Sherlock references, the fanservicy/fanscoldy elements, plus a River/Tasha Lem-like character in Missy. I feel like Moffat likes to write strong women, but his strong women too often exemplify their strength by throwing their sexiness around. I’ve seen this in DW, Sherlock, and Coupling.

    7. I get a kick out of Strax and didn’t mind his scenes. The medical examination scene was unnecessary though. However, I heard that it had been thrown in to showcase something designed by a Blue Peter contest winner.

  19. I was fortunate enough to see Deep Breath on the Sydney leg of the World Tour, and one of the best things about that was the collective audience reaction to key points in the episode. The most poignant was the audible gasps of shock when the Doctor left Clara behind. None of us wanted the new Doctor to be like that!

    Because of the high of getting to see the episode early, and the delight of seeing Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman in person, I didn’t really notice things like the harping on about his age. On a second viewing, I noticed more of the niggly stuff that many commenters above have already mentioned. But, overall, I am still thrilled by the episode, because I can see I’m going to love Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. And also, because I can now see some depth to Clara. If she is written this well for the rest of the season, she will become ‘my companion’ – and that’s really exciting!

  20. Question for anyone who knows: Do writers in the new series own rights to characters they create? I know this was an issue for the original series and made it difficult at first to get rights to the Daleks from the Terry Nation estate.

    I was thinking about this because Moffat’s creations like River, the Angels, or the clockwork robots tend to only appear in episodes that he writes.

    If some of Russell’s characters showed up in the new series like the Judoon or Slitheen would DW have to pay Russell or at least credit him for the right to use these characters.

    What about when the Ood showed up in Ood on a loo? Who owns the Ood – Matt Jones wrote the first episode that they appeared in. But Russell is known for such significant re-writes that he may have been the creator of the Ood.

  21. There’s a big difference between knowing in your head that your friend can/did regenerate and is still your friend, and actually *feeling* like they are still the same person. (I’d imagine, none of my own friends having regenerated as of yet.) Most of us fans have experienced at least one, if not many, regenerations of the Doctor, and yet we still have a bit of uncertainty at the beginning of a new one and need a bit of convincing, so why shouldn’t Clara? I found her reaction completely human, complex and believable.

    But the age thing was mentioned so often though, that it started taking me out of the story. It stopped sounding like part of the show, and started just sounding like a lecture from Moffat to fans.

    I did like the 11th Doctor’s cameo in this instance, because it closed the loop for me too. If it were any episode other than the regeneration, it might strike me as a little gimmicky and cheesy. But I liked that last bit of closure. Same with all the references to previous adventures and Doctors- the first episodes of the new Doctor sometimes need a bit more hand-holding than others, because sometimes we as the audience need that. I was excited for Capaldi already, but now I feel 100% ready for the adventures to continue with him. 🙂

  22. ccarol said:

    I’m on Team Erika, too. Clara’s upset reaction to the regeneration is a little unexpected, but not at all wrong or out of character. She _does_ mostly talk about it in terms of his appearance at first, but when Vastra calls her on it, she’s quick to say that that’s not what she meant, she is not a shallow person and it’s not about whether he’s cute boyfriend material. Vastra’s little speech isn’t the voice of the show lecturing the fans; Vastra is representing the segment of fandom that says “those silly teenage fangirls will never accept an old Doctor, they only care about young sexy actors.” And Clara quite rightly points out how unfair and insulting that assumption is. Clara _wins_ that argument.

    And I think the reason this episode is hammering so hard on “yes, he really, really is still the Doctor” is not just because of the age issue. It’s because they’re attempting something a bit dangerous: they’re replacing a young, adorable Doctor with one who’s strange and spiky and difficult to deal with. Remember how well that idea went over last time?

    • microtoast said:

      I just think the good old “show don’t tell” rule could have been applied with better finesse. How do they make us like the older spikier Doctor? By showing him doing stuff that still makes us love him despite the rough edges. Not by lecturing us and just TELLING us that we should like him, and if we don’t it’s just prejudice.

      At that point in the episode, when Vastra and Clara have their argument, we haven’t even seen hardly anything from the new Doctor himself. So what are we supposed to be basing our decision on yet? There’s nothing to like OR dislike yet. So any adverse reaction to the Doctor’s personality seems premature, because the only thing we (and Clara) have got to base our opinion on is…his looks.

      That was my problem: it’s not like you can’t come up with an explanation for everything that went on. It’s that the editing of the episode didn’t really help the story come across as clearly and logically as it could have, imo.

      That said, yay Capaldi! Yay Clara getting character! I really did enjoy it.

  23. Excellent and well thought out discussion on Deep Breath. I appreciate your giving voice to opposing viewpoints. I completely reevaluated my thoughts on Clara’s reaction for the better. Always enjoyable, keep up the great conversations.

  24. My reaction to Clara’s reaction: Pissed Off! As a 54 year old woman/punk/goth I was looking forward to seeing someone my age play the Doctor. To have someone whining about “he’s too old” made me want to smack her. I saw it in a theater at the midnight show and squirmed over it. The rest of the ep was great but that bothered me a lot. Later I listened to RFS and the boys’ reaction to that made me give it a 2nd viewing on iTunes and I have to say I loved the episode 1000% more. I just hope we don’t have to hear any more crap about his age. It makes me, as an “older” viewer, feel shat upon. Like I may as well trundle off to the old folks home and die.

    • microtoast said:

      Hear, hear! I’m not in my 50’s, but I will be some day, and I don’t anticipate all the fun in life being over when I get there. This bothered me with Evelyn Smythe on the Big Finish audios, too – she keeps calling herself an old woman, but she’s only 50.

  25. bekitty3 said:

    I think it would have been better if, during the phone call, 11 had asked Clara “Am I ginger?” rather than “Am I old?”. After all, that’s the question he’s been obsessed with in every regeneration since the start of New Who.

  26. Chris said:

    I loved the Episode & my daughter thinks that someone 50+ is interesting & exciting (but not me)

    I think the banging on of Clara about The Old Doctor is to reassure and draw closer hesitant New Who & “Pretty Boys” Fans (DW 9, 10 & 11) to the series.
    “It’s the person not the face that we love“

    P.S. Additionally the REAL subtext of “Deep Breath” is an English attempt to promote the continued of the United Kingdom.
    The Eyebrows up may be angry & want to ceded but it can’t
    How can forehead leave your face? (Joke)

  27. Philip said:

    Never mind dropping the mic, Erika walked towards the camera in slow motion while a giant explosion roiled in the background after that monologue. That was Super Bowl half-time speech quality right there.

    • Aw shucks. *blush*

      Saw this comment first thing this morning. You made my day before it had even properly gotten started! (Nice imagery by the way. I’ve always wanted to walk in slow motion.)

  28. Thanks for the redscharlach tip, Tansy. There may now be a Jenny and Vastra tank coming my way.

  29. AntonB said:

    I’ve been so looking forward to hearing the Verity take on ‘Deep Breath’ and you didn’t disappoint. I would like to hear Liz’s take on the Scottish Doctor though. I mean, for instance, if the Doctor’s Scottish now does that make him a Time Laird?

    My own reaction to your main issues are these – I do think Moffat overplayed the “Doctor is old now! Oh noes!” thing but I’m about the same age as Capaldi so maybe it wasn’t for my benefit. However, I’m quite prepared to accept that Clara’s reaction is perfectly justified, whether she remembers being in the Doctor’s time-line or not. ( and of course, as her role there was to save the Doctor from death, we can assume she’s never actually witnessed a regeneration personally). I feel it’s acceptable purely on the basis that if Moffat wants to use her character to make the point in that way he is perfectly free to do so. I think we should be used to him playing fast and loose with continuity, canon and consistency by now. If he isn’t concerned with these things then it should be clear that his narrative focus lies elsewhere. On that note –

    Capaldi was everything we expected but Jenna Coleman was a revelation. She’d showed us her talent in Asylum and then got sidelined by overly complicated story arcs and less than adequate characterisation from the writers. Here she was allowed to shine and she did. Plenty of praise also for Neve McIntosh and Catrin Stewart. Every appearance by Vastra and Jenny reveals more about their relationship. It can’t be an easy thing, writing a credible interspecies gay relationship for a pre-watershed audience. All praise to Moffat here for some deep and affecting writing. The ‘veil’ speech being particularly deserving of a close reading.

    The themes of body horror particularly the face-swapping, skin-hopping, parts-stealing clockwork droids more than served their purpose of mirroring the regeneration trauma of this new/old Doctor who hits the ground running with complaints about the colour of his kidneys and awareness of his own crotchetyness while hurling body judgemental insults at everyone in his sights.

    The dinosaur in the room of course was the dinosaur in the Thames. A blatant metaphor for Doctor Who, the show itself. Either an anachronisticly displaced anomaly floundering around London or a vibrant spectacle fascinating the masses while confounding the authorities.
    I did wonder how the populace of Victorian London were reassured though. They’re not going to explain this away with Derren Brown. (Which only served to lampshade the poor creature’s metaphorical purpose). By the way am I the only person wishing for a Godzilla v Kong style giant T-Rex/Cyberking fight of the (19th) Century?

    Then, to finish, a series arc coda with Michelle Gomez bringing her unique physical acting style to the part of the Gatekeeper. Do check out her frankly weird performances in Green Wing. (Brit hospital sit-com, a kind of more surreal Scrubs).

    Finally, I’m not sure the Matt Smith cameo was necessary. Clearly its purpose was to reassure younger viewers as much as Clara that this funny old man was still the Doctor but I felt it rather undermined Capaldi. No other actor has needed the affirmation of the previous incarnation in their debut episode. I couldn’t help but read this scene as a crisis of confidence by Moffat.

    All in all a great debut for the twelfth Doctor and I look forward to listening to more of your witty and incisive commentaries.

  30. Brad M said:

    Loved deep breath and loved this episode of Verity! As far as the big discussion point goes, I do feel like there was a strong underlying message throughout the story that was mostly conveyed through Clara and Matt Smith at the end. but I feel the message was only directed at a very specific segment of the Doctor Who fan base, more specifically the large group of casual viewers that have come to the show in the last couple years and have fallen in love with the 11th doctor. I agree with Erika about times where I really felt that Clara was grieving and other times I feel she was being utilized as a direct link to that specific fan base. I do feel that the Matt Smith call back was the only unnecessary bit in the episode however I completely understand why it was done but at that point in the episode I just don’t think it was needed, and perhaps just a tad unfair to Capaldi. Thank you ladies for the always intelligent conversations and as always looking forward to the next episode!

    • Brad M said:

      One more thing from deep breath that was fun to think about was the inference that the doctor might be able to choose his face during a regeneration. It is a bit of “head cannon” but I think back to the 50th when Tom Baker said “you might find yourself revisiting a few (faces), but just the old favorites”. This is my secret wish that after Capaldi has had his run of many years (I hope), this could open the door of the return of Paul McGann to the roll of the Doctor. Seems like Moffat is laying the groundwork for the return of any living Doctor should any wish to return to the roll, even for a limited run. Exciting stuff to think about anyway.

  31. It’s a real luxury hearing to you all. Every point of view, every passionate defense, every personal feelings or shared envisioning. Love Verity!

  32. Just a quick comment on the ageist (I’m 47 myself, so the age thing is closer than I’d like), and accepting the new doctor angle.

    I watched Deep Breath at the cinema with my 16 year old son and my 4 1/2 year old son. The 16 year old riffed of the age comments and had some fun teasing me later. The 4 1/2 year old, who has watched most of seasons 6 and 7 along with snippets of classic, loved the spectacle, but immediately after the 11th phone call exclaimed loudly, with obvious delight, “It’s the same Doctor, he’s just old now.” and it all clicked for him. And delighted the listeners nearby 🙂

    Fans come in all ages and experience; what’s passe for us, steeped in Who lore as we are, is fresh, thrilling, frightening and new for the next generation coming through.

  33. Paul A. said:

    On the subject of whether Vastra has met earlier Doctors:

    I’ve been saying for a while now that it’s already (tie-in novel) canon that the Paternoster Gang have met and shared adventures with the Seventh Doctor.

    One of the 1990s tie-in novels (written by Andrew Lane, who went on to be commissioned to write the Young Sherlock Holmes series) was a Sherlock Holmes crossover. The premise was that Holmes and Watson really existed, but weren’t named Holmes or Watson; Arthur Conan Doyle changed their names and other identifying details when he wrote about them. In a bit of a meta twist, all the bits of the novel with them in are narrated by way of Doyle’s unpublished account of the adventure, so they’re referred to as Holmes and Watson and we’re never told who they really were.

    Roll on “The Snowmen”, and once again we’re told that Holmes and Watson really existed, but weren’t named Holmes or Watson; Arthur Conan Doyle changed their names and other identifying details when he wrote about them. But this time we’ve been told who they really were…

    • microtoast said:

      Does that make Strax Mrs. Hudson?


      • Paul A. said:

        My theory about Strax is that when Doyle decided to make Watson a bloke, he borrowed some of Strax’s history as well.

        Think about it: he’s an ex-soldier, was a battlefield medic, came to join the Great Detective’s household after being wounded in a major battle…

  34. Oh, and I’m with Erika on the question of Clara’s reaction to this regeneration. Unless it’s true that Clara doesn’t actually remember popping into the time streams of the previous Doctors, in which case it becomes a moot point! 🙂

  35. […] is overwhelmed by the civility and kindness of our commenters and […]

  36. OMG thanks so much for Erika explaining Clara’s reaction to the Doctor’s regeneration! You are now my favorite go-to podcast for Doctor Who! I actually stopped listening to another podcast because they made such a big deal about how unrealistic Clara’s reaction was (as well as many other things). I had watched Matt Smith’s regeneration episode just before this one so I actually thought along the same lines as Erika did (though not in such depth 🙂 )

    Brilliant take on this!! Two thumbs up!

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